An In-depth Guide on how to clean your tools?

how to clean your toolsHow to clean your tools is the most urgent query to find an immediate and accurate answer to. Cleaning tools are as important as to use them to get your job efficiently done. Not to explain, maintenance of tools is essential not merely to extend the tool life but to keep tools as efficient and shiny as the fresh one.

However, tool-maintenance entails boarder activities but we will narrow down our discussion only on the cleaning methods of different pieces of equipment. But cleaning methods and activities stand for not-so-simple a task to accomplish without any consideration and preparation. Washing your tools after every use does not fall to the task of cleaning. It is a concluding part of the job done.

To be specific, cleaning tools means to remove dirt, grime, grease, silicone, adhesive, tars, and lubrication fluids stuck over tools lying open or unused for long. Depending on the accumulation of dirt or rust and the type of tools, cleaning methods, materials, and preparation vary. Now, let us examine clearly how to clean your tools however tricky or complex, dirty or rusty the tool is.

Why cleaning tools is crucial?

Any tool or equipment makes your job easier and we need them to accomplish tasks that are problematic or impossible to do the bare hand. Therefore, tools are meant to be working aid. But these working aids or help can themselves become a problem if left uncared and without maintenance for long. Active tools and equipment don’t grow dirty or rusty as it is customary to clean and wash any equipment after use. Tools stored for long, older tools or garage tools left unused require to be cleaned. The condition the tools presently are and type of tools determine the methods and level of cleaning they should go through. This is the reason that tool cleaning methods or ways are many.

How many ways can tools be cleaned?

Considering the dirt, grease, grime, and rust caked over a certain part of a tool, freshening of tools are two types. They range:

Basic Method

This method applies for the greasy, dirty, or grime-ridden tools. And you need only a cloth rag and top quality cutting-degreaser. You just need to spray a considerable amount of degreaser over the tool and then wipe the liquid residue off to the smallest particles. Mind it; you should leave no grim or dirt on the tool intended to clean but you should be careful enough not to hurt the equipment and get yourself hurt.

Advanced Method

The second or advanced method of cleaning will never be an inviting option if you keep your tools cleaned and washed on a regular basis. But you can’t help opting for the advanced cleaning if you are to deal with older, long time unused, and inherited family tools found left in the garage, store room or attic.

Certainly, these are the pieces of equipment to go through a rigorous and serious cleaning process. And you need a fair amount of preparation for that. Now, you may have to deal with stubborn rust caked over a large patch of a tool. The preparation entails collecting several cleaning materials that include:

  • Steel Wool
  • Brass Scrub Brush
  • Cleaner-Degreaser
  • Hand gloves
  • Commercial Cleaning Solution
  • Bucket
  • Hot Water
  • Cloth Rags

With the listed items gathered, you have to complete the advanced cleaning method in three steps. They are:

Step-I: Fill the bucket with hot water and pour a necessary amount of market grade commercial cleaning solution. Now, dip your tools intended for advanced freshening into the mixture in the bucket for at least 30 seconds. 30 seconds to one minute is enough so that the thick and stiff layer of dirt gets damp. Now, apply the brass brush to scrub off the dirt, grime, and grease with ease. Repeat the process if need be to wipe the dirt thoroughly away. Don’t forget to dry the scrubbed surface with a cloth rag.

Step-II: A more drastic cleaning method is necessary to deal with the tools being eaten away by stubborn and aged rust. The process now is all the same but you will now use the steel wool instead of the brass brush. Never forget to wipe the water to the last drop to eliminate the least possibility of further rusting. To do it full and final, apply a tiny quantity of efficient cleaning-degreaser and blot the water with the dry cloth rag.

Step-III: By far the second process is done; the cleaning method has reached its ultimate stage. But still, rust can grow over them in the future. To reduce the future rusting to a significant extent, you should now soak all the tools with household oil. The clean piece of cloth rag will help you serve this purpose most efficiently.

Accomplishing all the aforesaid steps as suggested, you can ensure any tool a longer tool life.

Tool Specific Cleaning Methods

Cleaning methods discussed by now are sufficient to deal with all and any tool. But an in-depth exposure to tool-wise cleaning procedures will make your cleaning task easier because one may not and will not use all types of tools to get his purpose served. Whether you are a professional mechanic or DIY hobbyist, you will buy and keep a specific set of tools.

There remain wild varieties of tools; most common among them include hand-held tools, gardening tools, mechanic tools, and power tools. With time, the automotive industry has introduced and implemented innovations that were unthinkable even in the sixties. In line with that, there emerge automotive specialty tools to deal with sophisticated and modern automobile parts. It’s time to go through the tool specific cleaning activities. Here you go in brief.

 Cleaning Gardening Tools

  • Gardening tools are ones exposed to dirt and dust more than any other tool. And they are badly in need of cleaning as they should remain sharp and edgy to serve their purpose effectively. The most common gardening tools range from Spade, Shovels, Rakes, Hoes, and Pruning Shears.

We can categorize cleaning gardening tools to be the advance tool cleaning method. So the arrangement is identical to the already described advanced cleaning method here. A nominal exception is the addition of the nozzle hose and a putty knife.

While working in the garden, tools can get heavy with layers of immovable mud or sticky substance while pruning small tree branches, weeds, or leaves. This is when a putty knife will work instrumental to cut the dirt layer before giving a speedy water wash by the hose with a nozzle.

  • An alternative way to clean the gardening tools is very popular with the hobbyist and mechanics. That is to stab your tool in a bucket of oil-soaked sand. You need to stab frequently and deeply to enter the smeared part of the tool. Better to avoid motor oil as it may prove counterproductive for the soil. Lin-seed oil is advisable in this regard.

Cleaning mechanic tools/ Workshop Tools

The quality of a mechanic reflects through the quality of the tools he uses. Not to emphasize, mechanic tools are too many to maintain them with ease. So a handy guideline will save your time and money.  Cleaning mechanic tools and accessories require both basic and advanced methods of cleaning. Before going for that let’s have a look at the most common mechanic tools.

Description of Auto mechanic tools and equipment

You will come across these tools in the toolbox or Tools Backpack for mechanics.

  • Precision Screwdrivers
  • Wrench
  • Ratchet
  • Socket
  • Pliers
  • Hammer
  • Punch
  • Chisels
  • Allen Wrenches
  • Hex Keys
  • Scrapers
  • Files
  • Picks
  • Small Work light

I know that this long list of common mechanic tools make you think a different approach to a cleaning of the mechanic tools from the cleaning methods already covered. I am pretty sure it will prove smarter. Here you go.

Cleaning Dirt & Grease

As a mechanic, you can get rid of the dirt and grease primarily by spraying penetrating oil WD-40 and wipe it off by a clean and dry cloth rag. Frequent the process until the tools feel completely degreased.

Get Rid of Stubborn Stain & Dirt

A little quantity of commercial degreaser namely Green Simple Degreaser can vanish however tougher the stain is. There again, you should dry atop the tool surface so that not a tiny particle of degreaser is left.

Soap Water or Vinegar Cleaning

  • Leave the tools in a bucket full of soapy water. Then rub the tools with a sponge soaked with soapy water.
  • But to reach crevices and between the teeth of pliers and wrench, you should apply toothbrush dipped into soapy water.
  • Opt for vinegar if you still find stains left. Vinegar works better than soap water for immovable spots.
  • Don’t forget to wash the tools with clean water after every aforesaid step. To wipe the water off thoroughly, use a microfiber rag.

How to clean power tools?

Cleaning power tools are a bit tricky as they have moving parts and crevices to invite dust layers and cobwebs. These structural variations necessitate an air compressor to shed off the dust and spider webs. 

So far the power tools are concerned; you need to know what you should not do rather than knowing what you should. The obligatory DONTs regarding power tools cleaning are:

  • Don’t ever try to clean the tools when the intended tool is plugged. Unplug the tool before you start cleaning otherwise you will run the risk of danger like short-circuit or severe injury.
  • Never sink it under water to give a wash. Use the air compressor first and then rub with an oil-soaked rag.
  • Never oil any power tool if it is not a manufacturer recommendation.
  • Never store your power tool wet, they will grow rust faster at it. Rust in power tool is more harmful as it may not work if a tiny bit is eaten away by rust.

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How to clean automotive specialty tools?

Automotive specialty tools are the latest phenomena in the toolbox of the garage mechanic. Traditional hand tools will fall far short of to successfully deal the latest automotive cars equipped with sophisticated and innovative parts. That is where precision tools like automotive specialty tools are the call of the day. Let us give a little brief on top 10 cool automotive tools that can provide you with the necessary exposure to them. They include:

Portable Parts Washer: Alternative to a bucket to give water wash to parts.

S-shaped Metric Ratcheting Wrench: An efficient tool to reach any nuts and bolts overcoming the obstruction.

Precision Automotive Wire Striper: A cool wire cutter to cut the subtle automotive wire with ease.

Circuit Tester: a basic level multimeter to measure current, voltage, and resistance.

LCD Borescope (Waterproof): Trace the problem in the engine interior of your car.

Bluetooth OBDII Tool for Scan: The sophisticated computing device to find out problems and solutions.

Car Cleaner Gun: Actually a pressure cleaner to wipe the dirt off the carpets, couch, and seats.

Automotive Jump Starter: An emergency backing to the car battery on the go.

Adjustable Oil filter Wrench: crucial to shift oil filter from cars.

Metric Ratcheting Wrench XL: To tighten and release tiny nuts and bolts.

A closer look will tell you the Jump Starter, LCD Borescope, Circuit Tester, Bluetooth scanner will merit the power-tool cleaning method needing an air compressor and a dry toothbrush.  Rest others are cleanable through basic and advanced method depending on the level of cleaning-requirements they fall to.

How to remove rust from tools?

Removing rust requires the most rigorous form of cleaning methods – the advanced level of the tool cleaning process. But we will cover the following two:

  • Remove rust from tools by baking soda

Using baking soda to wipe away rust from tools is the most efficient and economical process. You just need two ingredients to make a baking soda paste – lemon juice and baking soda. Let us go step by step.

  • Take baking soda from the kitchen and mix a little amount of baking soda to a paste.
  • Now cover the rusty patch of the tool with the paste.
  • Then scrub the paste and rust drastically with steel wool or wire brush.
  • Give a thorough water wash to get the scrubbed tool completely rid of paste particles.
  • Finally, wipe the last drop of water with a clean cloth rag to make it utterly dry to save it from rapid rusting.
  • How to clean a rusty socket?

Other than applying baking soda and lemon juice paste on a rusty socket, you can apply vinegar to get rid of socket rust. Here is a brief.

  • Take water in a bucket and pour sufficient of vinegar in it.
  • Now take the rusty socket and submerge in the vinegar solution for a few days.
  • You will find the rusty patch a bit less stubborn.
  • Then, scrub the rusty tool area with a wire brush or steel wool.
  • Repeat the process again and again until the rust is fully wiped away.
  • Wash the socket with clean water.
  • Never forget to dry the socket.

Molasses Paste

 You can apply another cheap and simple rust remover namely molasses paste. You just need to buy the small jar of molasses and mix with water by the ratio of water: molasses = 4:1. Now dip the intended socket into the mixture and let it soak for 1 day.

Follow the same course as vinegar cleaning.

How to remove rust (YouTube)

Enjoy the video showing you all the steps clearly how to remove rust from the common tools. In this 10 minutes plus video, you can watch Apple Vinegar to be the rust remover. It shows the rusty tools are inside a small glass jar getting soaked with vinegar. After the suggested period of vinegar dipping, the tools are looking to have shed off rusty oxide powder even before scrubbing. So the Apple Vinegar is a very effective rust remover to go for. See for more in the video.


There are two levels of cleaning that address both the simple tool of cleaning and the drastic ones. In both the cases, you need the commercial cleaning solution. That apart, you are told about tool specific cleanings where you have become aware of cleaning mechanic tools, sensitive power tools, and sophisticated automotive specialty tools. Nothing is left unexplained so that you may solve the problem simply and with ease.

You are reading the conclusion is evident that you are now aware of all the subtle and dedicated measures of cleaning any tool and equipment. So, you will stand by me to call this article an Ultimate or In-depth Guide on how to clean tools.

Learn More:

How to Restore Your Rusted Old Tools

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